U.S. Eases Liberia, Sierra Leone Sanctions

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(Rapaport… February 4, 2004) President George W. Bush lifted unilateral U.S. sanctions against Sierra Leone and Liberia on January 16, 2004, replacing them with trade restrictions under the Clean Diamond Trade Act. The Act, which is part of an international agreement to curb sales of conflict diamonds, requires diamond dealers to keep records of all diamond shipments and make such records available to U.S. law enforcement authorities.

In contrast, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) unanimously approved on December 22, 2003, a resolution to renew sanctions against Liberia for another year. The sanctions include a ban on Liberia’s diamond exports, an arms embargo and a travel ban on the country’s leaders. The council did say it would end the diamond ban when the country establishes “a transparent, effective and internationally verifiable certificate of origin regime” for its gems.

The UN, World Bank and U.S. are holding a two-day donors conference in New York on February 5, 2004, to try raise $300 million for Liberia’s reconstruction. Colin Powell, U.S. secretary of state, and Kofi Annan, UN secretary-general, are due to deliver speeches on the second day of the meeting, which will also draw representatives from the European Union, Japan, Sweden and Britain.b

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